Chaitanya Pramod

(Not so) Random words by a Web Developer

Viral Loop & the Lean Startup

Disruption of internet service can make you do things you wouldn’t have imagined doing anytime soon. For me this weekend, it was reading books that have long been collecting dust on my desk. I read Viral Loop on Saturday and The Lean Startup on Sunday. These bullet points are just a way for me to recall what I learned from these books.

Viral Loop (Adam Penenberg)

  • Viral expansion loop
    • Viral loop
    • Viral network
    • double viral loop
  • Collective curation
  • Viral businesses
    • Tupperware and Ponzi-scheme (Pyramid schemes), Netscape
    • Spreadable product
    • Virality Coefficient
  • Characteristics of Viral loop businesses
    • Web-based
    • Free
    • Organizational technology
    • Simple concept
    • Built-in Virality
    • Extreme fast adoption (Hotmail, Facebook, Skype)
    • Virality Index (> 1.0)
    • Predictable growth rates
    • Network effects (Telephone, IMs, social networks)
    • Stackability (on another viral business)
    • Point of nondisplacement
    • Ultimate saturation
  • Viral Marketing
    • Hotmail (remember Get your free email at Hotmail in email footer?)
  • Viral Networks
  • Scaling issues of (almost) every viral product
  • Long tail vs heavy tail

In the end, it just felt like reading stories of a couple of internet successes, but was an interesting read nevertheless.

The Lean Startup (Eric Ries)

  • Entrepreneurs are everywhere
  • Entrepreneurship is management
  • Incremental innovation vs disruptive innovation
  • Validated learning
  • Develop an MVP
  • Eliminate uncertainity - Test assumptions
  • Innovation accounting - vanity metrics and actionable metrics
  • Split testing (A/B testing)
  • Kanban principle:
    • Four stages of development of features:
      • Product backlog
      • Actively being built
      • Done (technically)
      • Being validated
  • Argument resolution through split test reports
  • Three A’s of metrics:
    • Actionable
    • Accessible
    • Auditable
  • Pivot: Changing course with one foot anchored to the ground
  • Different pivots(and the Votizen story):
    • zoom-in pivot
    • customer segment pivot
    • Customer need pivot
    • platform pivot
    • plus more
  • Pivot or Persevere
  • Single piece flow & effect of batch size
    • Large batch spiral death
  • Countinuous innovation and continuous deployment
  • Build-measure-learn cycle and planning it backward
  • Controlled scaling (Gmail)
  • The five why’s
  • User story for every feature
  • Collect and organize feedback from various forums

You can find lots of common references between these two books. Overall, it has been an entertaining and meaningful journey. I recommend these books to anyone building a product s/he’s is expecting to take over the world. Now that these two books are off my to-read list, wondering what to read nextToyota Production System by Taiichi Ohno?

First Post

Phew, just finished the basic setup of my brand-new blog-site. It took almost five hours to get here. Working with Octopress was fun. Setting up a blog on commandline is way cooler than doing it the wordpress style. Of course, Octopress drew me to itself with its subtitle:

A blogging framework for hackers.

I noticed Divya Manian move her blog to Octopress. After looking up Octopress and what people feel about it (everyone seems to like it), I decided to try it myself.

After reading almost all of the Octopress site, I cloned the Octopress repo, setup a Disqus account for the site and plugged in account into the config files. All commands are run through rake, which makes it as easy as:

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rake new_page[page_title]   # create a new page  
rake new_post[post_title]   # create a new post  
rake preview                # fire up a local server and preview the site at localhost:4000  
rake deploy                 # Make it live! :)

Just now realized that syntax highlighting breaks on Windows. Gotta find a fix for it soon. The Google Fonts were making the pages render slower, so I am thinking if they should be removed. The styles look good, but will spend some time on the CSS and fiddle around with it. Compass and SASS are new to me, more CSS frameworks to learn :(.

That’s it folks for now, will update with more changes I am planning to the site.

Update (23 April, 2012): Syntax highlighting (Pygments) worked fine today, probably because I’m using ruby 1.9.3?